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Open Access Highly Accessed Commentary

Data publication: towards a database of everything

Vincent S Smith

Author Affiliations

Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD, UK

BMC Research Notes 2009, 2:113  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-2-113

Published: 24 June 2009

Abstract

The fabric of science is changing, driven by a revolution in digital technologies that facilitate the acquisition and communication of massive amounts of data. This is changing the nature of collaboration and expanding opportunities to participate in science. If digital technologies are the engine of this revolution, digital data are its fuel. But for many scientific disciplines, this fuel is in short supply. The publication of primary data is not a universal or mandatory part of science, and despite policies and proclamations to the contrary, calls to make data publicly available have largely gone unheeded. In this short essay I consider why, and explore some of the challenges that lie ahead, as we work toward a database of everything.